Columbia womens lacrosse team pushes for district recognition


Brayden Parker

Columbia womens lacrosse player Emily Franke runs down the field with the ball during a game last Saturday, March 15. Photo by Maribeth Eiken
Following a year of planning and meeting with representatives from the U.S. Lacrosse Board and the Missouri Lacrosse League, Columbia Womens lacrosse coach Angel Renick, who teaches math at RBHS, has made the next step toward introducing her sport as a school sponsored activity here.
After meeting with Columbia Public Schools superintendent Dr. Chris Belcher and CPS athletic director Bruce Whitesides, Renick will present her case before the Board of Education April 14.
“This had been a year in planning and discussion before even approaching the school district,” Renick said in an email interview. “They helped me prepare the logistical side of getting school teams in place while I worked on recruitment of girls, families and coaches, just getting a buildup of interest. Finally, myself and one of the representatives from MSLA, Bob Panke, emailed and sent documents and videos until we were granted a meeting with Dr. Belcher where I presented petitions and more supporting documents for lacrosse as a school program … and what more [materials] I needed to bring in front of the school board to present the cause to them for a vote.”
Although Renick has yet to meet with the school board in order to begin the inclusion of girls lacrosse, already a MSHSAA sanctioned sport, as a district sponsored event the process at RBHS has already begun. Renick has worked to recruit future high school students to play lacrosse and to gather student signatures to show support.
“Getting girls to sign up to try it in the spring is easy,” Renick said. “My girls have over 100 signatures of potential players for Spring 2015. If even a third of those come out, I can field two full teams.”
Renick has enlisted help from current players on the city’s club team of which she is currently head coach. RBHS sophomore Meredith Reehl said while the work has been time-consuming, it was well worth the effort.
“[I had to] explain to my coach why lacrosse should be a school sport,” Reehl said, “and she took all our reasons to the athletic director. I also had to help get signatures for a petition to show that girls are interested in the sport … I did all I can do to help because I want to be able to play lacrosse for Rock Bridge, not just a club.”
Even with the work Renick and her players have done in the past months, the final say comes from the CPS Board of Education. Should the board decide to include it as an official event in the district’s athletic program, girls lacrosse would be introduced at all three district high schools.
Belcher says the district is still a ways out from that point in the process.
“At this point, we have only had a conversation,” Belcher said. “Making this a school sport requires action by the board of education. This includes discussions about budgetary impact and other associated issues. The Board of Education has not even had a public conversation or report on this yet.”
Regardless of the process that is unfolding, Renick is excited for the possibilities of girls lacrosse becoming a regulated school sport. She is more than willing to take on the continual challenges that accompany the task of introducing a new sport.
“It will be a dream come true. I have wanted this to happen since I was in school,” Renick said. “Lacrosse players put in just as many hours of practice as any other sport, play just as many games while paying for all their own travel, equipment and officials. It is about time that these girls get some support and recognition for their hard work.”
Brayden Parker